Commerce Dept. awards more than $200 million for high-speed internet in Indian country

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

WASHINGTON – The US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced this week that it has awarded $224 million to tribal governments under its Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.

The awards are the latest round of NTIA funding targeting tribal governments for broadband in tribal areas, telemedicine, distance learning, affordable high-speed Internet access and digital inclusion. Overall, the NTIA program has awarded $1.6 billion to 114 tribal communities.

“President Biden is absolutely committed to ensuring that every single American has high-speed internet at home or at school,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in an interview with Native News Online this week. “This includes people living in rural America, tribal areas and low-income families.”

The latest round includes 18 new grants to tribal governments in 11 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, South Dakota and Virginia.

Tribes receiving funds are Central Council Tlingit & Haida of Alaska Indian Tribes, Kenaitze Indian Tribe (IRA), Metlakatla Power and Light, NANA Regional Corporation, Inc., Cocopah Indian Tribe, Havasupai Tribe of the Havasupai Reservation, Big Sandy Rancheria Band of Western Mono Indianer, Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Susanville Indian Rancheria, Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, Lower Sioux Indian Community in Minnesota, Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Pueblo of Zia, Ely Shoshone Tribe, Haudenosaunee, Environmental Task Force, Shinnecock Indian Nation, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program is a nearly $3 billion grant program and part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative. The bipartisan infrastructure bill provides $65 billion to provide affordable, reliable, and fast internet nationwide.

“We have a mission to connect everyone,” Minister Raimondo said. “This is about connecting every single American, no matter where they live, the color of their skin or how much money they make.”

NTIA continues to review the more than 280 applications received during the application period, which ended September 1, 2021. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program will continue to announce additional awards as they go through the review process.

About the author: “Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a reporter for Native News Online based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. Thompson has covered political unrest, tribal sovereignty and indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to various Indigenous issues in international conversations for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Voice of America. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology & law studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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